Seikongen seeking port of refuge

Although the sunken Chilean wellboat Seikongen (IMO 9793985) has been refloated, ten months after sinking off Chloe, Chile, the 100 tons of decomposed salmon reportedly still on the vessel are making it difficult to find a port willing to take her.

There are no signs of leakage, and both the owner and the Chilean Navy have said that Seikongen poses no threat to human health, but this has not stopped a court of appeal denying the Seikongen the right to berth at the port of Talcahuano, her intended destination. The city’s mayor, Henry Campos, filed suit to prevent her from entering port, due to the nature of her cargo. He said that the vessel would be “a time bomb” for Talcahuano if she were allowed to dock.

On Wednesday the Seikongen arrived at an anchorage south of Tenglo Island near Puerto Montt, Chile. She had relocated from the port of Ancud in order to find better protection from expected storms. Seikongen sank on October 18th last year only a month after launch. There were 40,000 fish and 17,000 gallons of fuel on board when she went down. All the crew were safely rescued.

Salvors Ardent righted the vessel last month, but sealing the salmon-filled hold proved difficult and delayed the reflotation, which finally occurred on August 1st. The salvage cost was estimated at about $5m overall. The shipowner has expressed a desire to have the ship repaired and returned to service.

Talcahuano is not alone in not wanting the vessel. The mayors of the towns of Paillaco and Futrono have filed similar suits to prevent the fish from arriving at a landfill near their communities, The rotten fish was said to have generated hydrogen sulphide, which can be fatal to humans.

Seikongen had been scheduled to arrive at  Talcahuano on Aug 12. Its anchoring at Ancud was unpopular with the local mayor, who had also said that he was considering filing suit. The reason given for the halt at Ancud was engine damage of one of the boats towing the vessel. Another tug was sent from the Bío-Bío region to take over the towing amid challenging weather conditions. The crews wanted to wait until the weather has improved. Certificates for the new tug were also required. The mayor, Carlos Gómez, wanted the Seikongen to leave Ancud immediately, hence the passage to Tenglo Island.

The current plan is that, if and when the Seikongen docks at Talcahuano, the rotten salmon will be transported by lorries from the port to landfill about 40km away.

2017-built, Chile-flagged, 1,952 gt Seikongen is owned and managed by CPT Empresas Maritimas SA.